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Colombian telecom operators complain about Claro’s wireless monopoly

Seven telecom operators have joined together to ask the Colombian government to make the wireless market more competitive. Avantel, Azteca, DirecTV, ETB, Movistar, Une and Tigo released a joint statement complaining of competition problems in the country.  “If it stays like it is, a monopoly will be created,” the carriers wrote in the release.

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The main complaint involves Claro, formerly Comcel, belongs to América Móvil and leads the Colombian mobile telephony market with a 61.34% market share. Telefónica’s Movistar had 25.81% of market share, followed by Tigo (Colombia Móvil) with 12.68%, Uff Móvil with 0.56% and UNE EPM with 0.17%. At the end of the second quarter, Colombia had a total of 48,156,504 mobile subscribers.

Citing a report from Fedesarollo, the telecom operators said that Claro’s monopoly has cost users an estimated U.S.$2.565 million. “The Colombian people have to pay tariffs that would be lower in a market with increased competition,” the carriers stated.

The carriers noted that up to this point, the measures the government has adopted to promote competitiveness have not been enough and have not been applied in a very effective way. This has contributed to the rise of Claro’s market share.

In the statement, the carriers argue that more legislation and regulatory measures are necessary: “It is urgent to approve a program of law that defines market share caps to promote competition in the telecommunications sector.  In addition the government, through its agencies, should adopt and implement appropriate regulatory measures.”

Recently, the Colombian government released LTE auction rules and allowed Claro to participate—after a polemic debate over whether the dominant mobile operator should be allowed to bid. Colombia’s LTE auction was postponed to February next year, and América Móvil’s Claro will be allowed to bid in the 2.5 GHz.

Want to know more about the Colombian wireless situation? Be sure to download the RCR Wireless feature report about the telecom market in Colombia.

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